Approved 3/18/04

Holliston Public Schools

Holliston, MA


School Committee Meeting

February 26, 2004


Present:           Mr. Coppelman, Mrs. Matz, Mr. Post, Mr. Jones, Mrs. McColl, Dr. Young


Absent:            Mrs. Deering, Mr. Ganzenmuller


Call to Order


Mr. Coppelman called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm.




On a motion made by Mrs. McColl, seconded by Mr. Jones, the Committee approved the minutes from the January 8, 2004 School Committee meeting, as corrected.


Vote:    Favor: 4            Oppose: 0         Abstain: 1 (Mrs. Matz)   Absent: 2 (Mrs. Deering)

                                                                                                                             (Mr. Ganzenmuller)


On a motion made by Mrs. McColl, seconded by Mr. Post, the Committee approved the minutes from the February 5, 2004 School Committee meeting, as corrected.


Vote:    Favor: 5            Oppose: 0         Abstain: 0                                 Absent: 2 (Mrs. Deering)

                                                                                                                            (Mr. Ganzenmuller)



Public Comment            none

School Committee        Mrs. McColl reported on the success of the HEF Spelling Bee.

Mrs. Matz congratulated the Girls and Boys Basketball teams, and the Hockey team, for fabulous seasons.  She thanked Jim Carboneau for setting a wonderful tone of leadership and sportsmanship.

Mr. Coppelman reported that he would not be running for reelection, and there will be two School Committee vacancies to fill at the May election.


Superintendent            Dr. Young congratulated Deb Blinder, President of HFT for being admitted to practice law before the US Supreme Court.   She congratulated Jerry Kanzanjian and Pat Smith for being chosen as honorees by the Golden Foundation for Excellency in Education. 




Placentino Computers

Kathy Dooley reported that the new computers were installed at Placentino Elementary School over the February vacation.  All of the old computers were removed, and the new ones installed by a group of High School Students.  The students worked very hard and saved the District money, while they received community service credit and great experience.  She presented each student with a certificate.  Linda Weene thanked Kathy Dooley, Ann Prete, the high school students and the faculty who helped to have the computers ready to go when school began on Monday.


Superintendent Search Update

Mrs. McColl and Mr. Post reviewed the District’s progress since the 1997- 2001 Strategic Plan was developed.  Five years ago, our school buildings were in disrepair.   Now, with the completion of the Building and Renovation Plan, we have 4 beautiful, state of the art buildings that are conducive for learning, and organized in developmentally appropriate levels.  Our curriculum now includes academic standards that make it clear what kids should learn and what teachers should teach.  Holliston is now a model for other schools in standards-based teaching. 


They reviewed the goals of the 2002 - 2007 Strategic Plan, and discussed the new initiatives currently underway throughout our schools.  Some of these initiatives include common planning time at all schools, differentiated education, the use of the internet, the mentor program for new teachers, and the Focus program at the High School and the Pathways program at the Middle School for students at risk.  They commented on the importance of communication.


They reviewed the Superintendent selection criteria presented at the December 4, 2004 meeting.  The criteria (in priority order) is as follows:

1.          Demonstrates excellent communication skills;

2.         Demonstrates success in improving and maintaining high academic performance;

3.         Demonstrates the ability to work together with various constituencies;

4.         Understands and recognizes successful teaching;

5.         Demonstrates skills in budget development and implementation;

6.         Shows experience with long term planning and goal setting;

7.         Supports and promotes professional development;

8.         Supports the desire to graduate well-rounded students;

9.         Understands and supports the role of technology in education;

10.        Displays support for innovative educational programs.


Mike Gilbert, MASC Consultant, reported on the status of the search.  He stated that there were more than 40 inquires regarding the Superintendent position, with 29 completed applications.  After the paper screening, 10 semifinalists were selected for the Search Committee to interview.  Of the 10 semifinalists, 7 are sitting Superintendents.  It was requested by some semifinalists, that the candidate discussion process remain private due to issues surrounding their current employment.  Mr. Gilbert stated that if this request is not honored, we are likely to lose a few candidates.


Mr. Gilbert confirmed that it is legal to discuss the search process in Executive Session, if requested by a candidate and based on current employment issues.  This can only be done at the semifinalist level.  The finalist discussion must be held in open session.   He stated that this happens frequently, especially when a sitting Superintendent is considering moving to another District.  Discussion was held. 


On a motion made by Mrs. Matz, seconded by Mrs. McColl, the Committee voted to review the semifinalist process with the Search Committee in Executive Session, as requested by candidates.  


Vote:    favor: 5            Oppose: 0         Abstain: 0         Absent: 2 (Mrs. Deering, Mr. Ganzenmuller)


On a motion made by Mr. Post, seconded by, Mrs McColl, the Committee voted to charge the Superintendent Search Selection Committee to review the information candidates have provided, conduct interviews of the candidates and to forward to the School Committee the 3 - 5 individuals that the Search Selection Committee feels best fit the criteria previously laid out by the School Committee at a meeting held on December 4, 2003.


Vote:    Favor: 5            Oppose: 0         Abstain: 0         Absent: 2 (Mrs. Deering, Mr. Ganzenmuller)


At 7:37 pm, the Committee voted to move into Executive Session to discuss the Superintendent search.  Mr. Coppelman reported that they will be returning to Open Session in approximately 10 minutes.


Vote:    Mr Coppelman, yes; Mr. Post, yes; Mr. Jones, yes; Mrs. Matz, yes; Mrs. McColl, yes.


Break taken from Open Session from 7:37 pm to 7:55 pm.


The Committee returned to Open Session at 7:55 pm.


Miller School Improvement Plan

David Keim and Julie Doonan, Co-chair of the Miller School Council reported on the progress made on the 2003 - 2004 School Improvement Plan.  They discussed the following goals:

I.          Ongoing Goals

            A.         Open Circle - They are looking to set a certain time each week, when all classes will participate in Open Circle at the same time.

            B.         Increase student learning in math - Pat Rourke, math specialist, has been working with teachers and students.  Family Math Night was held in January, with 181 families in attendance.



II.        Playground/School Ground Improvement

            A.         To create a safe playground environment for the students - The playground was resurfaced with shredded rubber.

            B.         Appearance for the front of the school - Boy Scouts from Pack 2 raked and weeded the beds in front of schools.

            C.         Courtyard - Grants were written by teachers Pat Fountain and Denise Irving to improve the courtyard. 

III.      Curriculum Enhancement

            A.         To improve student learning by integrating literacy instruction across the curriculum - There is now uninterrupted literacy block in the mornings for grades 3 and 4, and they are looking to do this in grade 5.  Professional training is in place for guided reading instruction.

            B.         To improve student learning by addressing individual learning styles through differentiated instruction - There has been supported literacy initiatives by the literacy specialists.  A leveled book room is being created and guided reading is a focus.

            C.         To increase teacher communication regarding students as they move from one year to the next.

IV.        School and Grade Identity

            A.         Promote Identity in grades 3, 4 and 5.


Mr. Keim and Mrs. Doonan reviewed the preliminary goals for the 2004 - 2005 School year.

I.          Ongoing goals

            A.         Improve student learning by addressing individual learning styles through differentiated instruction.

            B.         Increase student learning in mathematics.

            C.         Create activities that promote identity in grades 3,4, and 5.

II.        Homework Guidelines

            A.         Develop resources for after school/summer curriculum-based activities.

            B.         Revisit Homework Policy.

III.      Curriculum

            A.         Revise standards to match updated state frameworks.

            B.         Literacy - create leveled book room.

            C.         Math Enrichment - resource room.

            D.         To improve students’ learning across the curriculum through the use of technology.


Discussion was held.  The Council was praised for their leadership, parent commitment and their ability to set goals, and work towards these goals with a process that includes accountability. 



CORI Policy

Mrs. Deering was not present to read the current draft of the CORI policy.  The policy was discussed and questions asked.  Questions were asked regarding who should have a CORI check. 

Dr. Young reported that the criteria is very clear, and that the School Committee’s  policy is on target.  She stated that it has already been sent to our legal counselor for review.  It was stated that the policy should be broad, with the procedures to  include specifics. 



Leave of Absence

Dr. Young reported that Catherine Simpson has requested an unpaid leave for the 2004 -2005 academic year. 


On a motion made by Mrs. Matz, seconded by Mrs. McColl, the Committee voted to approve the request by Catherine Simpson for an unpaid leave for the 2004 - 2005 academic year.

Vote:    Favor: 5            Oppose: 0         Abstain: 0         Absent: 2 (Mrs. Deering, Mr. Ganzenmuller)


Old Business

FY05 Budget

Mr. Jones reported on the Budget workshop, held on February 7, 2004.  He praised the administration for their presentation of their needs based budgets.    A full  needs-based budget puts us at a 6.2% increase over level funding.  This allows us to add back programs that were cut from the budget last year and is based on actual school needs.  A level service budget, puts us at a 3% increase over level funding. This includes contractual obligations, while services remain unchanged from this year.  Level funding would be a 0% increase in funds, which would impact the classrooms. There are two approaches to increase funding, one is a revenue generated approach, which would include fees.  The other is reducing expenses.


Mr. Jones presented class sizes for each grade, comparing 2003, 2004 and projected 2005, both with and without needs based funding.


The town process is moving forward, with expectations that the numbers might be more optimistic than original projections. The School Committee will vote on their proposed budget at the April 1, 2004 meeting.  The warrants go to print on April 13, 2004. 


Discussion was held regarding the timing of the budget process.  It was stated that we do not want to miss the opportunity for an override, if needed.  The budget sub-committee felt confident that the necessity for an override might not be there.  They confirmed their “cautious optimism” regarding the budget situation. 


Mr. Jones reviewed the proposed next steps for 2005 Holliston school budget finalization.  Public Forums will be planned in March. 


New Business

Superintendent’s Report

Dr. Young presented the proposed draft of the 2004 -2005 school calendar.  The draft includes the scheduling of professional days on election days.  Half day elementary school conferences were moved from 4 days to 2 days, due to parent concerns regarding too many days off in November. Discussion was held regarding having the parent groups look into a program to help working parents during these no-school days.  It was also suggested that we discuss the situation with the Recreation Department.  The start day of school was also discussed.  It was suggested that we begin school on Monday, August 30, which is the Monday prior to labor day.  This would allow us to close the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and guarantee that the school year would be complete prior to the start of camps.  The calendar will be reviewed again at the next meeting.




On a motion made by Mrs. McColl, seconded by Mr. Post, the Committee voted to approve a bill warrant in the amount of $225,527.95.


Vote:    Favor: 5            Oppose: 0         Abstain: 0         Absent: 2 (Mrs. Deering, Mr. Ganzenmuller)


On a motion made by Mrs. McColl, seconded by Mr. Jones, the Committee voted to approve a cafeteria revolving account warrant in the amount of $20,509.21.


Vote:    Favor: 5            Oppose: 0         Abstain: 0         Absent: 2 (Mrs. Deering, Mr. Ganzenmuller)




The next two School Committee meetings will be held on March 4 and March 18, 2004.


It was stated that discussion needs to be held regarding decisions about the Wilder School and Flagg School.  This statement came from the Building Committee meeting.


Mr. Jones reported that he will look at the Community calendar prior to planning a date for the public forum on the Budget.




At 9:20 pm, the Committee voted to move into Executive Session for the purpose of discussing the pending litigation regarding the Open Meeting Law.  Mr. Coppelman stated that the Committee would not be returning to Open Session.


Vote:    Mr. Coppelman, yes; Mr. Jones, yes; Mr. Post, yes; Mrs. Matz, yes; Mrs. McColl, yes;